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September Heritage weekend – Outcast and Jackson Project

This year Jelly and Jacksons are working together again on a project for Reading’s Heritage Weekend – 9th to 11th September.

Suzanne and I had a chat with the lovely people at Jacksons and were excited by a book written by a member of staff. The book featured a collection of old photographs of the store and illustrated the changing fashions over the decades.

This has led me to design a piece of knitwear initally inspired by the Jacksons archive images. I researched vintage knitwear pieces with particular reference to one of my favourite fashion decades the 1920′s (see images from my sketchbook)

My garment is machine knitted using ‘stylecraft – 4 ply’ yarn available from Jacksons. The finished garment will be on display during the Heritage Weekend and during Septembers Third Thursday event. The image below shows a section of my garment for the Jacksons project.

Would you like to get involved with the project too?

How to get involved:

Last year the Outcasts designed a pattern to make a candle for the knitted Jacksons birthday cake.

This year we invite the Outcasts to design ‘vintage inspired’ hand knitted or crochet patterns. The patterns will be made available download online during the Jacksons Heritage weekend.

We would recommend that the patten should be for something small, made from one skein of yarn such as a brooches, cuffs, bracelets, socks, toys. The possibilites are endless and all ideas welcome. There is yarn left over from my garment which will be available for the Outcasts to use.

Deadline date for finished patterns: 1st September 2011

If you’d like to join in please register your interest in the comment box below and we will be in contact again soon with more info. I shall also be at knit night on Wednesday 3rd August to discuss the project.

Other wooly, crafty and fashiony dates for the diary of events happening in September:
5th to 11th September – Wool Week. Events all over the UK. See website for more info –
15th September – Jelly Third Thursday Event.
16th September – London Fashion Week – Spring/Summer 2012
22nd to 28th September – Origin – Contemporary Craft Fair, Spitalfield Market, London.

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Knitting Machine Workshops

Click here to view PDF flyer

Sunday 8th May 2011
11am to 4.30pm
£55* including materials, lunch, tea and coffee.
Jelly, 42 Market Place, Reading, RG1 2DE

A one day workshop for beginners or for those wishing to refresh their machine knitting skills.

Hosted by Emma Bradbury, this workshop will be an introduction to the basics of machine knitting. You will be taught how to cast on and off and create swatches of hand-tooling techniques.

Emma Bradbury is a recent ‘Knitted textiles’ graduate from The Royal College of Art. Since graduating Emma has worked with British fashion brand DAKS. She was commissioned to design hand and machine knitted garments for their womenswear Autumn/Winter 2011 collection which was shown at London Fashion week.

For more info about Emma and her work

Places are limited. To book your place please email

*Special introductory price

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Domestic knitting machine

Knitting machine geekery

I love knitting machines and like learning about all the different types of machines. I have worked with a range of different machines during my time at Knit School from super whizzy all singing and dancing Shima Seiki knitting machines which can knit fully fashioned garments without seams to hand pulled V-bed flat and domestic machines.

Domestic Knitting Machine

Last week I was in Scotland working at a knitting factory and I was in my geek element checking out the new machinery. One machine which I found interesting was a warp knitting machine. It can take up to 56 cones of yarn to knit depending on how wide you want the scarf to be. The rows are knitted vertically rather than horizontally and each cone represents the vertical column of needle loops. The stitches are constructed in a zig-zag/figure of eight style.

Weft knitting on the left and Wrap knitting in the right

I found it fascinating and loved all the colours. Here are some photos of the machine.

Finished scarves.

Geek Wrap knitting fact:

The antenna which transmitted images of the Apollo 12 luna landing was warp knitted. It was made from gold plated metallic yarn and weighed less than 28 grams to 1 squared meter.

Acknowledgements: Knitting Technology by David Spencer

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Unravel – Farnham Maltings – 26th and 27th Feb 2011

This weekend is Unravel – A Festival of Knitting at Farnham Maltings, Surrey.

The Unravel website says

unravel enables everyone to indulge for 2 days in all things woollen! Activities will include a marketplace, talks, demonstrations, workshops and a knitting surgery amongst others.

Opening times are:

Sat 10:00 – 17:00
Sun 10:00 – 16:00

Tickets available here:

Single day ticket: £6 adv/£8 door.
Please note that single day tickets are valid for either the Saturday or Sunday.
Weekend ticket: £9 adv/£12 door;

Outcast members have stalls at this years Unravel. Skein Queen aka Debbie will been selling her hand-dyed yarn in the Great Hall. Sue – Half and Half and me Emma Bradbury will be exhibiting and selling our work in the Tannery.

I’d recommend starting off the festival with a talk by John Arbon – 11.00-11.45. The talk is titled ‘COMBING & SPINNING THE HILLS’. John will be talking about his Fibre Harvest processing and spinning project based in North Devon. He will cover how it all came about, why he feels it is necessary and what his vision of yarn and textile production is in the UK. John will also relate this to his latest Excelana yarn range which uses locally sourced Exmoor Blueface wool.

Reading Artist and Whiteknight Studio Trail member Caroline Marriott is also running a rag rug workshop. The class is fully-booked but hopefully some of her work will be on display too.

See you there.

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Stitch-Hacking and Pattern-Blagging: A manifesto

In September (last year !) at the knitting conference in Shetland Sue and I met Amy Twigger-Holroyd. Amy is the designer and maker behind the brand Keep and Share.

Amy’s talk at the conference was about her manifesto – ‘Stitch-Hacking and Pattern-Blagging’. Amy explained that in the Victorian era when an important building was built the maker or designers initials and year it was compleated was encapsulated in the making/building process linking that work to the maker. Many knitters spend hours carefully repoducing a garment from a pattern but leave no trace or signiture on the piece that they made it themselves. Amy calls to knitters to blag patterns with a tag of their intitals and date which is encorporated into the exsiting design to show evidence of the makers hard work. She also says that a garment has more meaning and you are less likely to throw it away when you make it yourself so she is also asking people to hack into exsiting manufactured garments and reorganise stitches to claim it as their own.

In Amy’s words stitch hacking is:

The laddering and reconfiguration of stitches in an existing knitted garment

and pattern-blagging is:

the modification of an existing knitting or crochet pattern to create a personalised item

When I heard Amy’s manifesto I thought this would be right up the Outcasts street as many Outcasts already modify, reorganise and upcycle existing patterns and garments to give them their own unique twist.

The aim of the maniesto and Amy’s mission is:

To free knitters from the confines of ‘set’ knitting patterns, and allow wearers to make their mark on their knitted garments. To encourage the creation of emotionally significant, long-lasting knitted items through the integral inclusion of meaningful personal information.

To offer makers the chance to make creative decisions, to express themselves both personally and politically, and to record the time invested in a piece.

To direct viewers to reflect on the origin and individuality of knitted garments in wider terms.

Amy has invited the Outcasts to join her on her quest to hack and blag existing knitting patterns and garments and share the responses to the manifesto with her.

As with all manifestos there are some rules and guidelines to the process. Amy’s rules are as follows:

1. Select a tired knitted
garment to hack.

2. Use the stitch-hacking
technique to apply a design to
suitable areas of the garment.

Pattern Blagging
1. Select an existing knit or
crochet pattern to follow.

2. Modify the pattern to add
personalised content through
structural techniques (e.g. lace)

ALL designs (Stitch Hacking and Pattern Blagging)
3. Designs should include any or all of the following:
- references to the identity of the maker/hacker/blagger
- references to the original garment or pattern source
- references to give a sense of time
- references to give a sense of place

4. Designs should only use letters, numbers and symbols.

5. Designs will be unique, and appropriate only to the selected garment.
Universal designs should not be attempted.

6. Show your working.

To share your responses to the manifesto please email them to Amy at

A copy of the manifesto will also be available at the Outcast knitting group.

Manifesto created by Amy Twigger Holroyd, Hereford 2010
Share your responses to the manifesto! Email images to
Copyleft: all users have the freedom to use the work, to study the work, to copy and share the
work with others, to modify the work, and to distribute modified and therefore derivative works.
Any such works must also be distributed under a copyleft licence.

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Winchester School of Art Knitting Reference Library

Just wanted to share with you some info on the wonderful knitting reference library at Winchester School of Art which is available to all knitting enthusiasts to use to source patterns and inspiration (booking a place is essential – more info to follow below).

The library includes a collection of magazines, photographs, postcards and books related to knitting. There is also an archive of knitting patterns dating as far back to the early 1800s. Some of the patterns from the 19th Century in the Richard Rutt collection are now available to view onlinehere. The reference library was founded on the collections of 3 knitting archivists – Jane Waller, Richard Rutt and Montse Stanley.

The Montse Stanley collection was accquired by Winchester School of art after her death in 1999. Many Outcast knitters will be aware of her book ‘The Handknitters Handbook’, first published in 1986. Alongside publishing books she also lectured and taught hand knitting. Her vocation was to share her love and passion for hand knitting and now can be viewed by all. The collection has been divided and housed in two different locations. Her collection of objects and garments can be viewed at Hartley Library on the Southampton University campus and her collection of books, magazines, photographs and postcards are available to view at Winchester School of Art.

To make an appointment to view the collection contact Winchester School of art via email: or telephone: +44 (0) 23 8059 8531

To visit the Hartley Library email: or write to:
Special Collections
Hartley Library
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ

Don’t be shy – Winchester School of Art and Hartley Library welcomes all knitters. Winchester is a lovely place to visit and whilst you are there The Hambledon is worth a look.

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Jamiesons and Smith wool shop Lerwick

Wool Week – 11th to 17th October 2010

11th – 17th October is ‘Wool Week’. Wool week is a campaign backed by HRH Prince of Wales to promote the benefits of woolen products – especially products made from British wool. Events supported by wool organisations, industry associations and the textile industry across the world will be taking place all week in different locations around the country to communicate the importance of wool. The Sheep Parade in Covent Garden Piazza hosted by Lyle and Scott on the 12th October is a must see.

I was saddened to learn that it costs the British farmer more to shear his sheep than he would get for the fleece. A fleece is worth as little as £1 to a UK farmer so many fleeces are burnt. It can be disputed that these fleeces are too rough and scratchy for the fashion market so for what else could the fibre be used? The aim of this campaign is to educate retailers and the public about the properties and benefits of British wool and promote products such as carpets and rugs and insulation within building construction which would ideal for the coarser sheep breeds. The Prince’s Campaign argues that the eco and environmental benefits of British wool outweigh those of synthetic and man-made fibres. Buy British wool and you cut the carbon footprint of wool imported into the country. Wool used in interiors is more fire resistant and more resilient to wear and tear than man made fibres and will repell dust mites.

On the high street there is an increasing trend for ‘fast fashion’ where synthetic fabric is choosen as a cheaper alternative to keep up to date with the latest fashion fads. A study from Defra shows nearly 2 million tonnes of textiles go into UK landfill every year. Wool will bio degrade unlike oil based synthetics. The Campaign for wool is getting brands such as M&S and John Lewis involved in Wool week who have promised to endorse products made from wool. It is hoped that other high street brands will follow suit to help British farmers boost the demand for British wool.

I am passionate about hand knitting and celebrating traditional crafts. You have probably guessed that I am a bit of a British wool fan so I am very excited about wool week. As a knitter, fibre and texture is essential in the design process and I always favour wool and natural fibres. I enjoy knitting with Bluefaced Leicester. It is one of my favourite yarns. Rowan’s DK Bluefaced Leicester yarn is a wonderfully soft and bouncy yarn which is ideal for cable and aran patterns. The natural creamy ecru colour is fantasic but it also takes up dyes beautifully. Another favourite is Black Welsh (again available from Rowan). It is an amazing rich brown/black. Other yarns are also available such as the new Bluefaced Leceister boucle. I’m not normally a boucle fan but this yarn is special and I may just keep this on display in my house to have a quick squeeze and a sniff when passing as it is very sheepy indeed! Rowan is celebrating wool week by launching a range of knitting patterns using their Pure Life British Sheep Breeds yarns. They are available to download on the 1st October. Click HERE for more info. Rowan are also hosting a range of other events to mark wool week. See their news and events page for more info.

I am also a fan of Shetland yarns for their colours – natural colours and dyed. On a visit to Shetland (see HalfandHalf’s post below) we popped into yarn brookers Jamieson and Smith and Jamiesons of Shetland. If you are in the area I highly reccommend a visit. Both shops have yarns available to order online. Another favourite of mine is the Wendsleydale Longwool Sheep Shop whose stall I like to visit and stock up from at iKnit and the knitting and stitching show. Other sheep breeds to keep an eye out for are the North Ronaldsay seaweed eating sheep from Orkney, Jacobs and Suffolks. Rachael Matthews and Louise Harries haberdashery shop in Bethnal Green, London ‘Prick Your Finger’ is a great place to source rare British breed yarns and yarns spun by small farmer producers.

I know that I am preaching to the converted to the Outcast knitters but for those who still need convincing that wool is wonderful, I would like to echo the words of John Thorley, Chairman of the Prince of Wales Wool project and say ‘Give fleece a chance!’

British Wool Week

Follow The Campaign for wool on twitter:
Observer: It’s Not Easy Being Green
British Marketing Board

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